After days of President Obama's re-election campaign questioning whether Mitt Romney would have ordered the daring Navy SEAL raid inside Pakistan that killed Osama bin Laden a year ago, Romney finally gave his answer: "Of course," he told a reporter in New Hampshire. "Even Jimmy Carter would have given that order." Of course, Obama's allies aren't exactly persuaded, pointing to statements from 2007-08 in which Romney disagreed with Obama's pledge to strike high-value terrorist targets inside Pakistan, saying it's "not worth moving heaven and earth" to capture bin Laden. If Romney were in charge last year, would he have taken out bin Laden?
Any president would have sent in the SEALs: We know for a fact that Jimmy Carter did order a similar raid, sending Marines to rescue hostages in Iran, says Allahpundit at Hot Air. And Carter, Romney, or any other president would have made the same call Obama did with bin Laden. In counterterrorism, "it's easier for a president to err on the side of aggression than passivity." If Obama had punted and the press found out, he would have been toast. And as for Romney's past statements: In 2007, Pakistan was an ally; in 2011, not so much.
"Romney: C'mon, even Jimmy Carter would have given the order..."
But maybe not President Romney: Mitt is wrong to suggest that ordering the raid was "a no-brainer," says Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo. Obama had to push hard for a renewed focus on finding bin Laden, and overrode top advisers' objections to sending in SEALs. Romney, on the other hand, has a history of opposing "both the policy of aggressively focusing on bin Laden and violating Pakistani sovereignty. It's hard to get around that."
"The British are coming"
Regardless, Republicans won't win this on the politics: Many people believe it's unseemly to play politics with the bin Laden raid, says Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice. But Romney's new line — that somehow the raid was no big deal, and an easy call — "is coming across as sour grapes." Besides, whatever Romney would have done, trying to turn the tables on Obama has one "net result": Romney is playing on Obama's turf, with everyone talking about how "Obama issued the order to get Osama bin Laden," and wondering if Romney might have balked.
"Romney says 'even Jimmy Carter' would have ordered Bin Laden op..."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- The latent sexism of the male marriage proposal
- Bush vs. Clinton in 2016 is the perfect way to make millennials hate politics even more
- This judge is the reason we're still fighting over net neutrality
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- The week's best photojournalism
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- The lessons of Japan's latest recession
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
Subscribe to the Week